If a tree falls in the forest, is the basketball game still played? Cavs vs Grizzlies Behind the Box Score

BtBS Behind the Box Score WFNY
Cleveland Cavaliers (18-6) 85
Memphis Grizzlies (18-9) 93
[Box Score]

Well, then. That was a basketball game. I guess. What else can be said? The Cleveland Cavaliers, playing on the road in the back end of a home-and-home with the Memphis Grizzlies, left their star players LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love in Cleveland.

For a while, the Cavaliers hung in there. Cleveland actually won the second quarter, and early in the third, they got the Grizzlies lead cut down to four. That’s about as good as it would get, though, as Memphis subsequently pulled away and this game mercifully came to an end.

Without disparaging the players who gave it their all in this game, this game was really just a throwaway. Cleveland wasn’t going to win this one. The result was one of the most boring basketball games Cleveland will play this season. With the Grizzlies choosing to rest Marc Gasol when the teams met in Cleveland the night before, it’s almost like these two teams decided to just play a couple scrimmages ahead of the upcoming holiday schedules.

None of this is a criticism of the decision to rest players. Coaches and teams should always do what they think is best for themselves. For fans, though, the end result is ugly. You find yourself left with a game tough to watch and even tougher to talk about after the fact. What can be taken away from a game like this? Does anyone even care about the stats in this one?

Either way, we’ll get to the stats in a moment and they will be given as much effort as the organization gave to this game. That might sound like a criticism of the players who played, but it’s not. The guys who played gave it their all and truly tried their hardest to win this game. But without the usual focal points of the offense, suddenly guys who are used to just catching and shooting wide open shots suddenly found themselves having to try to create offense and get their shots in motion. Those guys should be proud of the effort they gave and the way they competed in this game.

From an organizational standpoint, though, this game was a punt. Sitting the Big Three was a clear signal that the Cavaliers didn’t care about this game. And that’s fine. They valued rest over a win in this one and nobody should have any problems with that. So with all of that said, let’s take a brief dive into the numbers….

  • 11 – Mike Dunleavy has had a rough go of it so far this season but thrust into the starting role with LeBron James still back in Cleveland, Dunleavy seemed to rediscover his game. Dunleavy had 11 points as he hit 50 percent of his shots from the field and knocked down 50 percent of his three-point attempts. Dunleavy also had 6 rebounds and a steal in 23 minutes of play. This was easily his best game with the Cavaliers. With LeBron, Kyrie, and Kevin all gone, the game was opened up a bit for Dunleavy to reprise the role he played in Chicago. Hopefully, this game will serve as something of a confidence booster and Dunleavy can build on having some success in this game.
  • 15 – Champ! James Jones led the Cavaliers in scoring with 15 points. One of the most beloved players by his teammates, Champ had an excellent game shooting the ball, as he hit on 3-of-5 from three-point range and 5-of-8 from the floor overall. The very definition of professionalism, Jones expressed happiness with the effort from his team after the game, noting that he liked the way everyone came out and competed against a Memphis team that has played excellent basketball this season.
  • 52.2% – The Grizzlies came into this game 28th in the NBA in three-point shooting, hitting on just 32.7 percent of their attempts from long range. Against the Cavaliers, though, the shots were falling. Memphis knocked down 12-of-23 three-pointers led by Tony Daniels who hit 4-of-8 en route to a game-high 20 points overall.
  • 17/11 – Marc Gasol, who missed Tuesday’s game in Cleveland, was a monster in Wednesday night’s matchup. The Cavaliers had no answer for Gasol who was great from any spot on the floor. Gasol had 17 points and 11 rebounds in 28 minutes as he made 6-of-9 field goal attempts and drilled all three of his attempts from three-point range.

    Marc Gasol shot chart

    Marc Gasol shot chart

There’s not much else to be said about this one, really. It was great seeing some players who don’t normally get much playing time getting an opportunity to shine, and some really took advantage of the opportunity. But with the way this team is built and the way these players are used to getting their shots, this was just too much to expect them to win. So, a basketball game was played and will be quickly forgotten about and relegated to distant memory. The Cavaliers should be back to full strength for Saturday’s game in Cleveland as the Cavaliers host the Los Angeles Lakers on Timofey Mozgov Championship Ring Night.

  • Harv

    I had the identical take: guys played really hard, really scrambled on defense and after loose balls, and generally acted like it was an audition for more minutes. Way better than a trip to the D-League for guys like Felder and McCray and Liggins because they were still facing NBA competition.

    Liggins acts like a guy playing for his next meal, i the best sense. And Felder is still a ways from figuring out what his strengths are at this level (hint: turning the corner on anyone, abrupt speed shifts to create a shot).

    I get why leaving a healthy Big 3 home upset Griz fans who paid a premium for those tickets, and for their kids to whom promises were made. But too bad. When a top coach like Pops or Francona hits on an out-of-the-box winning strategy, it will be imitated until it doesn’t work anymore. The league jams the schedule to maximize profits without regard to player rest, but the coaches figure out that their own success is directly related to the bounce in the step of their stars come Spring, fan whining be damned. Apparently, the new CBA elongates the season and ends this scheduling tension. Reason #87 why Adam Silver is the brightest, most nimble sports czar. So smart for the goal to be all sides presenting one happy, unified image to the customers.

  • Absolutely agree on Silver. Rather than doing the usual posturing via media, Silver took a different approach to negotiations. He was open, transparent, and upfront with Michele Roberts. And together they negotiated in good faith behind closed doors, never once using the media to try to gain an advantage. And sure, like many have pointed out, it’s easy to have labor peace when the business side of the sport is so healthy and growing like crazy, but it takes real leadership to protect status quo via partnership rather than getting greedy and trying to squeeze every last dime out of it.

    It has been a real joy to read about how this deal came together. Both sides deserve so much credit.

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